Susy Campanale’s Serie A column: Napoli record under threat

Atalanta and Milan club crests

Napoli could well see their 100 per cent record come to an end with a tricky trip to Fiorentina, while Milan and Atalanta go head-to-head in what should be another all-Lombardy thriller, not to mention the small matter of the Derby della Mole.

It’s another exhilarating round of Serie A action as we go towards the break for international duty and the Nations League. So many factors need to be taken into account, from injuries to bans, the effects of cup competitions on squads stretched thin and the growing influence of new coaches once their teams have become accustomed to them.

Napoli face formidable Fiorentina

Luciano Spalletti had the perfect start on the Napoli bench, winning six out of six in Serie A, but suffered his first defeat in Thursday’s Europa League against Spartak Moscow. While Mario Rui’s early red card undoubtedly changed that game, the fact remains Fiorentina are a formidable opponent and Nico Gonzalez is back after his ban too.

It’ll be a battle of the 4-3-3 formations, with Dusan Vlahovic and Victor Osimhen two strikers who can get a goal out of nowhere. It could be won and lost in midfield, where Napoli probably have the edge, but the Viola are sure to make this an entertaining and goal-packed encounter.

Milan schedule taking its toll

The same goes for Atalanta and Milan, as we’ve already seen La Dea play a 2-2 thriller with Inter that had a collective 40 shots on goal. Robin Gosens is out of action for the hosts, while Olivier Giroud is still probably not fit to start.

Ultimately, the strain of another dramatic Champions League match against Atletico Madrid, and the anger of losing to a non-existent penalty in stoppages when down to 10 men, could really take its toll on Stefano Pioli’s side. Luis Muriel made his comeback several weeks earlier than expected and can make a big difference for Gian Piero Gasperini, but the key against Inter was Ruslan Malinovskyi’s cannon of a left foot. It can be unleashed with devastating effect from any angle or distance, as the Nerazzurri discovered to their cost.

A more even Derby della Mole

The Derby della Mole is usually one of the most one-sided local clashes in Serie A, but that might not necessarily be the case this time around. Juventus are fresh from beating Chelsea in the most Max Allegri way possible, defending for dear life and scoring with a Federico Chiesa counter-attack, but Torino are a very different type of opponent. It’s a pity both sides are struggling with so many injuries, although Andrea Belotti might potentially make it to the bench for the Granata, but missing Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata will undoubtedly make this a more even contest.

Toro will force Juve to take the initiative and that is something they have struggled with so far this season. It’s easier to rely on the Juve ‘spirit’ when they are the underdogs, but it’ll be tough to match the kind of grit and determination that comes from the Turin Derby and working with a coach like Ivan Juric. If the other big games of the weekend promise goals, this one might be a little less easy on the eye, but still decidedly dramatic. It’s worth betting on a goal from either side in the final 15 minutes, more likely from Juventus, as Toro’s stamina remains an issue.

Serie A Week 7 fixtures

Friday October 1

Cagliari vs. Venezia

Saturday October 2

Salernitana vs. Genoa

Torino vs. Juventus

Sassuolo vs. Inter

Sunday October 3

Bologna vs. Lazio

Verona vs. Spezia

Sampdoria vs. Udinese

Fiorentina vs. Napoli

Roma vs. Empoli

Atalanta vs. Milan

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